At some stage during England’s tour of Australia this summer, we’re sure most England fans would love to see a side that looked something like this…
Although England may have to look to replace Brown in the not too distant future given his age, at least for the time being, he remains a safe pair of hands at the back who was solid if unspectacular during the Six Nations. Although he starts, the aim would be to bring Brown off with twenty plus minutes to go and install either Watson or Daly at full back.
Watson is quite simply a once in a generation kind of player for England and looks set to be a key figure for them through to the World Cup in 2019 and beyond. He was slightly quieter than normal during the Six Nations but still showed enough of his flashes of brilliance to indicate that he is one of the first names on the team sheet, especially as he also covers full back.
The Exeter centre looked set to star during this year’s Six Nations until a broken leg ruled him out of the tournament. He is already back in action for the Chiefs and will figure prominently as they challenge for a place in the top four, and possibly more. The fact he can also cover fly half will also open up bench options for England, whilst his defence is monstrous.
The return of Tuilagi has been widely hailed by Eddie Jones and it will be fascinating to see how he can slot in at inside centre for England. Playing him alongside a more skillful centre like Slade means the pair can interchange at will and hope to eventually produce a centre combination similar in style to that of Nonu and Smith for the All Blacks.
Nowell continues to remain one of England’s most consistent backs after putting in another solid shift during this year’s Six Nations. Although he may not quite have the natural athleticism of Anthony Watson on the other wing, Nowell more than makes up for this with hard work and determination, especially when getting back to defend.
Farrell ended up excelling in the number 12 shirt for England during the Six Nations whilst George Ford was mixed at best at fly half. Farrell should therefore be given the opportunity to display his Saracens form for England at 10, especially given that he is one of the most consistent international kickers in world rugby right now.
It will be vital for England to up the tempo against the Wallabies this summer, and for that reason alone Care must start. He needs to spend the rest of the season working on his kicking game, but beyond this he will be key to England playing in the right way. His speed of service and ability to spot a gap will be crucial to pinning the Wallabies back.
What more can be said about Vunipola that hasn’t already been written since his barnstorming displays during this year’s Six Nations. Although he tailed off a little in the final two games, he still drew plenty of attention from opposition defences, thereby creating extra space for players running off his shoulders.
In his couple of cameos during the Six Nations, Clifford looked to have all the tools necessary to succeed on the international stage, he now just needs to be given a full eighty minutes to prove it. Although he is probably more suited to playing on the blindside, the sparkling form of Chris Robshaw means he starts this game in the seven shirt.
Robshaw was one of England’s most roundly criticised players after last year’s World Cup debacle, however he has bounced back under Eddie Jones and proved the doubters wrong. Jones has widely hailed him as one of England’s most important players and his workrate and experience cannot be underestimated.
Although he may not have stolen the headlines like some of his Saracens colleagues, Kruis was potentially England’s most consistent player, if not their best. He was solid around the park and absolutely sublime in the set piece where he didn’t just secure his own ball, but stole or at least disrupted plenty of opposition throw ins.
Had it not been for an injury to Joe Launchbury then Itoje may never have got a start during the Six Nations, but Eddie Jones will be thanking his lucky stars he did. He was head and shoulders above any other debutant this year and looks likely to be a key figure in the English pack for many years to come.
Although Dan Cole was solid enough for England during the Six Nations, his continuing ill discipline is becoming increasingly frustrating and has begun costing his team points. If Brookes can see out the rest of this season injury free then it would be interesting to see how he fares in the number three shirt for England.
Going into the Six Nations, George was without doubt the form hooker in England, however given Dylan Hartley was named captain, it was always going to be tough for George to start a game. Over the summer tour, it would however be interesting to see how George gets on starting at hooker as he is quite a different player to Hartley.
Although Joe Marler was again solid at the set piece, his influence around the park isn’t quite as obvious as Vunipola. By starting Mako at loosehead, it helps take some of the attention off his brother Billy as the main ball carrier thereby freeing us some space for the impressive number 8 to make hard yards ball in hand.
It’s vital to ensure that George isn’t completely exposed on the international stage, so having the experience of Hartley on the bench ensures that should things not go according to plan, especially at the set piece, there is a safe pair of hands to come on. His leadership could also be vital to helping England see out a game in the last twenty minutes or so.
You could just as easily put Joe Marler’s name here, however it would definitely be interesting to see how the Wasps man goes. Mullan has been in superb form for Wasps once again this season and must only be one injury away from a call-up so maybe now is the time to see whether he has what it takes, rather than throwing him in at a later date.
Dan Cole would be the obvious choice here, however having Hill on the bench would allow England to bring on the youngster to help him gain more international experience. He already looks like a future starter for Eddie Jones’ side so it certainly wouldn’t harm to start giving him some extra international game time.
Although the pairing of Kruis and Itoje looks pretty much locked in now, it’s important not to forget just how good Launchbury was back in 2014. He may no longer be an automatic starter for England but he can still have a huge impact off the bench and will provide vital cover should injuries hit the second row.
20.Sam Underhill/Will Fraser
England fans have been crying out for a genuine openside seemingly since 2011 now so here is the opportunity. Either young Sam Underhill at the Ospreys, or Saracens Will Fraser should tour this summer and be given the chance to come on off the bench in at least one game to see whether they have what it takes.
This is possibly a long shot, but if Simpson can get match fit again before the end of the season and pick up where he left off for Wasps then he definitely needs to be the third scrum half taken to Australia. In at least one game it would be interesting to see whether his pace can be used off the bench to pick holes in a tiring Australian defence.
Daly finally made his debut for England against Wales and showed just a glimpse of what he can do. The problem he now faces is that there is incredible competition for the number 13 shirt, however given he can cover full back and wing in addition to inside centre, he is the ideal bench option who can come on and make an impact across the back line.
England are in need of another top quality winger in case of injury and have plenty of options in the likes of Rokoduguni, Wade, Yarde and May, however Lewington could yet be the pick of the bunch. He continues to be a stand out player in a poor London Irish side and definitely deserves a shot in an England shirt sooner rather than later.